A friend has asked me to back with scripture a statement I made that I did not believe that the Old Testament saints would take place in the Rapture of the Church. The Bible, in multiple places, indicates that there will be multiple Resurrection events. The question remains: "Who takes part in which?"
Paul is very clear, in his great Resurrection chapter that the resurrections of ALL believers do not happen at the same time:
1 Corinthians 15:22-24 "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order [this term in the Greek means "military rank"]: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [literaly His "presence" – a term specifically applied by Paul only to the Rapture and always distinct from His final return to earth to set up His kingdom]. Then the end [a third "rank"], when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God …"
The OT also supports the concept that there are different groups of resurrections in a personal message spoken to the prophet Daniel:
Daniel 12:13 "But go thou thy way till the end: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Note: Daniel’s promised resurrection rank is not until "the END of days". One of the great mysteries of the Bible is the prophetic separation of Israel and the Church. Daniel chapter 9 is a prime example of this, where the Tribulation (final "week" of the 70 weeks) seems to take place immediately after the death and resurrection of the Messiah and the entire Church Age is not even hinted at. Since Daniel, as an Old Testament saint, had no ability to see that something called "the Church" would ever exist, he therefore could not have foreseen an event that happened during [at the end of] the Church age, that is, the snatching away of Christ’s Bride. He is NOT a part of that bride, so does not get invited into the wedding chamber. His foretold resurrection MUST be something that takes place in ISRAEL’S timeline, not in that of the Church.
The resurrection of the Church takes place at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). The epistle of Second Thessalonians was written to prove that this Resurrection of the Church takes place BEFORE the antichrist is revealed (I.E., before the seven year Tribulation begins). Scripture assures us that the ENTIRE Church will participate in the Rapture and be resurrected “Together”. The oft-repeated Greek prefix for “together” in 1 Thessalonians 4 is proof enough that we will all go at once. See 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, where "those who sleep or wake" does NOT refer to the dead and alive, but, by literal translation, "those who are alert/watching or those who are dozing/inattentive". So even those members of the Church who are goofing off will be snatched away, like a treasure stolen by a thief in the night.
So, what does the Bible reveal about future resurrections [note the plural] that <<DO>> take place within Israel’s prophetic timeline?
John writes in Revelations of a future "first" resurrection of the Tribulation saints, which obviously take place AFTER the Tribulation — and so at least 7 years AFTER the resurrection of the Church:
Rev 6:9-11 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls [I.E., not yet resurrected] of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they, should be fulfilled."
Later in Revelations the fulfillment of this "first" Resurrection – that of the Triblation martyrs, at the end of the Tribulation and prior to the Millennium, is shown:
Rev 20:4-6 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection. Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
I think, though some will disagree with me, that Matt 25:31-46, the "judgment of the sheep and goat nations" is also looking at this first resurrection at the end of the Tribulation and NOT the Great White Throne judgment at the end of the Millennium. It is my belief that in Matt 25 Christ is dealing with the survivors of the tribulation, setting up those who will be allowed to enter alive into His "Kingdom" on earth.
Then the 1000-year reign of Christ takes place, after which is the final resurrection (of both all of the remaining righteous dead [which probably includes all of the OT saints and the saved who died during the 1000 years] and all of those who have rejected God, throughout all time):
Rev 20:11-15 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it… And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."